Importing jpegs without the background

HI. I’ve created a jpeg of a light fixture using “save as” from a vendor website. When I import it to my model, the white background is part of the jpeg. Is there a way to delete the background and just keep the light fixture? If it was a component I could click until it highlighted and then delete it. But it’s a jpeg I created and isn’t formated with components. Thanks.

You should save as PNG. Use an image editing application to select the background and make it transparent (delete it.)

You cannot do this basic image editing within SketchUp.

Thank you, Dan. I’ll try to do it in Paint. I assume I have to outline the image and then make just the background transparent? i.e., no easy way to isolate the image from its background.

Are you talking about Windows Paint? That’s probably not a good choice; more capable bitmap editors (paint programs) have a tool that specifically erases background. Doing it by hand, pixel at a time, is possible, but not much fun. Consider PaintShop Pro or PhotoShop Essentials. And maybe Gimp, which is free, has a background eraser.


Yes, was thinking Windows Paint. Thanks for the tip. I’ll look into the other options.

I use Paint.NET, it’s free and has a magicwand tool that can select the background so you can delete it.
It has plugins, and you can add filetype functionality via plugins.

Paint.NET is much more like the old pre-metro MS Paint. It’s much quicker to learn than GIMP. (But less powerful out-of-the-box than GIMP.)

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This is great information. I’m going to check into all those links. I’m not a techy. I’m an interior designer! So this tech stuff is painful. I did have some luck this past 1/2 hour using Photoshop. I was able to make the background transparent but the white glass (the globes) also turned translucent. When I used the magic wand to highlight the background, it also picked up parts of the globes. I guess there’s a way to futz around with the dotted lines that appeared but I might try to draw them in using the pencil tool instead.

It’s hard to say without seeing the image, but if it is fairly simple you can explode the image in su and draw around the lamp and delete the background.

There is usually a threshold control for magic wand selection tools.

In Paint.NET it is a horizontal slider that looks like a bar graph labeled “Tolerance”. It appears on the top toolbar when the Magic Wand tool is active. The selection can be adjusted dynamically. Clicking the background with the Magic Wand tool hilights the selection with sparkily dotted lines. With the selection active, the tolerance control can be adjusted and the selection changes to suit the setting dynamically.

PhotoShop should have a similar control.

In PaintShop Pro, the Background Eraser tool looks like this. Whatever is under the icon at the center of the tool is assumed to be background. Works pretty well.


Thanks Gully_Foyle. I do get the same kind of cross-hatch when I use the magic wand in Photoshop. I ran into a problem, though, with more of the image being deleted than I wanted. I will try to post a photo here later. Basically, it’s of a wall sconce with 3 white globes. The globes also came up highlighted for transparency (as opposed to me purposefully highlighting it). The rest of the image worked out great though.

That gray checkerboard is sort of the universal symbol for “transparent.”

The Magic Wand is a selection tool. It selects everything it touches that has a certain range of color and opacity values. The Background Eraser simply removes the background in one step.

As I say, most reasonably capable bitmap editors have such a tool. When PSP adde threirs several versions ago, I found it a revolution in ease and quality of the very task you’re attempting.

If nothing else, PSP offers a free trial version. Or give your picture over here and I’ll do it for you.


On the off chance that you’re using this image, here’s a transparent PNG version.

I’m going to post the photo of my results later tonight. It would be like the sconce above but with the globes being transparent, too. Thanks everyone.

Making the globes be transparent is a different need than just removing the background. Here’s a quick attempt.

These are my results when trying to make the background transparent. Using photoshop. The top one is after clicking the magic wand but before hitting ctrl + D. The bottom one is after ctrl +D. You can see that the top line of the globes are missing. The background is gone when I put in SU model. Good. But most of the globes are missing, too. You can see that just the outside edges remain. I guess the question is - is my process correct and it’s just a matter of a funky image? Or did I do something wrong?

I don’t think the glass should disappear altogether. You can select the globes and lower their opacity, or place them on a separate layer with its opacity turned down, but not all the way, so the effect will be of translucency, not transparency.


do you mean doing that in photoshop or su?



Will give it a go. I’m a rookie at PS too.